Africans Claiming Africa for Christ is a conference for members of the Churches of Christ throughout Africa held every four years. Held in Lusaka, Zambia from 8-12 August 2012, several representatives from our college attended. Among them was Susan Carter, who wrote the following post about the visit.
Larry and I are in our 10th year in Africa and I had not taken many opportunities to be away from Swaziland and the ACC campus. This is where my heart is and the ACC community has been my family away from family.
However, I wanted to attend the Africans Claiming Africa for Christ conference hoping to see some of the students who have returned home but left me rich with their friendship and memories.
Even though I didn’t get to see everyone I would have liked, I was very pleased to be with those who did attend whom had been a part of my Swazi world.
First and foremost in my desires in Lusaka was to visit with the family of Sydney and Misozi Mhango. Sydney came to Manzini Bible School the same week in May 2003 as Larry and I to begin working as an employee. From the very beginning, Sydney was special to us. Unmarried at the time, he would occasionally bring a movie from town to give ‘the old people a laugh’ and we each learned about our cultures as we shared stories and memories of our lives.
We were here to pick up Sydney with his new bride, Misozi, in 2004 and to welcome Benjamin and Mluleki as they came along later. And as the years passed, we were able to meet many family members as they visited in Swaziland.
It was important to me to visit Mama Sydney at her farm in Lusaka, to meet those family members I had not yet met, to see the land where Sydney grew up and is part of the Mhango heritage and legacy.
Mama Sydney had 12 children, the last one expected when her husband, a strong Christian and missionary interpreter, died. This amazing woman told me how people would stop and take a picture of them on Sunday morning bound for church…one child on her shoulders, another on her back, one carried on the front and others surrounding her. She would see that all her children learned about Jesus and her strength is a testimony to a family who leads in almost every capacity in some Church of Christ congregation in southern Africa. There are elders, preachers, youth leaders, choir directors, women speakers among them.
Praise be to God for the lovely afternoon we shared at the Mhangos and the wonderful meal and welcome we received. We were all blessed and it will remain a cherished memory for me for the rest of my life — especially hearing this family gathered with their mother sing praises to God as they must have all their lives with harmony, enthusiasm, and love.
Former students at the conference included two who were in school when we arrived in 2003: Obert and Catherine Beene Mozha. Obert and Catherine met at MBS and were married a few years later. They worked in the Zambian western province at Sesheke until relocating to Lusaka and helped plant the New Garden Church of Christ. They are blessed with a daughter and son.
Abson Muumbe (2004) who works with Nahiumba Christian Basic School as a Bible teacher and Babylon Kajolo (2008) who is from Macrimond Church of Christ both work with the Zambian Missions Organization of Canada in the Kalomo area.
John Maseka (2006) presented me with a new picture of his family, increased by one, and showing dear little girls, Melody, Irene, and Edie as leggy young school girls growing fast. John and Justina are in the Solwezi area of Zambia and he preaches at the Messenger Church of Christ.
Simphiwe Stuurman graduated in 2007 and is the preacher at the Centurion congregation in the Pretoria area of South Africa. He has plans to marry soon.
I discovered Justina Chuma (2010) with Catherine Mozha (mentioned above) volunteering as kitchen help for the conference. They are ladies with servant hearts. Justina and Jonathan (also 2010) are with the Lusaka Central Church of Christ and ‘will go where the Lord sends’ in southern Africa.
In addition to these, students ‘before my time’ were also present. Many we had met during an alumni reunion and anniversary gathering. Among those were Herbert Mhango who is the preacher at Chilenje congregation in Lusaka, Jonah and Abigail Siyanga (another kitchen volunteer) who work with the Central congregation in Lusaka, and Justin (2001) and Royce Siandunda who is teaching Bible at Zyangale Christian Basic School and preaching and teaching to 11 congregations around the area. Jacob was also at the conference to talk about ministry with street kids. He operates a well-known orphanage in Livingstone and has just completed a doctorate from a university in India.
At the conference itself, it seemed at every turn I was welcoming an old friend. Later I reflected on what a blessing it has been to be a part of an ‘international’ campus because my friendship base stretches from my own country through many parts of southern and eastern Africa. Not only did I reunite with African friends, but even found some American ones as well. David and Lorrie French and Greg and Mary Swindle who are all working in Zambia at Mapepe Bible College worshiped with us at a small congregation in Martin, Tennessee in the mid-90s.
We were reminded and petitioned at the conference to continue getting the message out that the answer for African churches to grow is not the presence of more Americans nor their money, but of Africans stepping up to take the challenge of ‘making disciples’. It was noted that many mistakes have been made, but the answer is not to dwell on them, but to move past them and help prepare our African brothers and sisters with the necessary tools to evangelize their continent and sustain their own ministries.
ACC was represented well. Henry Huffard from World Christian Broadcasting (and an ACC board member) and Kurt Platt spoke at the conference about an agreement for our students to help with some broadcasting in the future. Kurt also presented a presentation of Swaziland and the ACC campus. Sydney made a presentation of the growth of the macadamia nut orchard since the conference attendees were informed about the work at its onset and remain interested in its sustainability. Larry had the opportunity to talk about sustainable ministry in one of the afternoon classes. Fielden and Janet Allison also conducted classes in marriage and family while there.
God is good and faithful. The family of Christians on this continent will be a force to reckon with in years to come as they claim their wings to ‘go out’ bringing the kingdom of God to this earth!